LPedia: 1972 Libertarian Political Action Manual by David Nolan

LPedia has the LP’s original political organizing manual from 1972 by David F. Nolan.

Read full 56 page manual here

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20 thoughts on “LPedia: 1972 Libertarian Political Action Manual by David Nolan

  1. Chuck Moulton

    This is great! I hope Dlugos, Tony from LI, and Capozzi read pages 1-5.

    It’s also interesting to note that Nolan was in favor of cross-endorsing Republicans and Democrats when they ran good candidates in states like New York.

  2. George Whitfield

    Thanks for finding and posting this manual. I had not heard of it before. I joined the party in 1979. David Nolan was a founder and helped get the party started in several ways. Happy New Year!

  3. robert capozzi

    dn: Educating the public is without a doubt the most important thing we can do, at the moment, and any
    expenditure of time, money and energy that detracts from this effort is assuredly an unwise. allocation of our resources.

    me: Maybe true in 1972. In 2019, not so much. And, yet, the Bylaws and SoP don’t allow for a pivot. It won’t allow a pivot EVER.

    Unless NAPists themselves decide to stop the madness.

  4. robert capozzi

    dn: If you doubt this, consider the relative amount of attention given a Congressional candidate — even a splinter-party candidate — and a representative of some ”Committee to Abolish Something.”

    me: An interesting question, albeit a straw-man. I note the abolitionism in The Nolan’s thinking. How much coverage do NAPist candidates actually get, particularly the paper, unserious, abolitionist ones? My sense is: Not much.

  5. Anthony Dlugos

    “Educating the public is without a doubt the most important thing we can do, at the moment, and any
    expenditure of time, money and energy that detracts from this effort is assuredly an unwise. allocation of our resources.”

    That was as wrong in 1972 as it is now.

    Education is at best a secondary effect of getting people elected and moving public policy in a libertarian direction.

    A political party focusing on education will accomplish neither getting people elected nor educating the public. For obvious reasons. The rules/conventions of the game of electoral politics preclude declaring education as your primary goal, no matter what the founders/founding documents declare.

    If you want to educate the public, there are far better arenas to do it in.

    On the other hand, I agree with RC that the bylaws/SoP prevent a pivot. That’s the whole point. The NAPist doesn’t ever intend to drop the dogma. The argument to call our primary purpose education is to ensure the dogma stays intact. The “At the moment” qualifier is either wishful thinking, or pure subterfuge

  6. robert capozzi

    AD,

    To clarify, out of the gates, there was almost no way that L candidates could win, or really even show. The first few cycles would have involved “educational” spadework. In the 80s, I’d say, there was some positive movement. 3 AK state legislators. Clark did a credible job in 80, and would likely have done better were there no John Anderson, and Reagan himself sounded quite L at times.

    The NAPists of that time didn’t like that, not one bit. They produced the Dark Ages that are just starting to lift. And yet the 7/8ths depth charge and other relics remain in place, at the disposal of Modern Day NAPists.

  7. Anthony Dlugos

    RC,

    I actually read the first five pages of the manual, as Chuck recommended.

    However, I’m not really sure what his purpose was in such a recommendation, although I can take a guess given the list of folks he suggested read those pages.

    The thing is, I see nothing in those first 5 pages which requires a NAPist or anarchist LP.

    You make a fair point suggesting we should try and put ourselves in the shoes of the founders at the time they founded the party, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t think the same thing at that point in time. To wit: winning is impossible at this time, so we need to educate…at the moment…until winning is possible.

    However, I hope that I would be more prescient in 1972, and argue to Mr. Nolan that, before libertarians undertake the formidable task of electoral politics, we make it perfectly clear that in that arena, winning will be the sine qua non of the organization, NOT education.

    As I see it, arguing that anything is more important than winning in electoral politics is a siren song for every fringe idea, every unqualified crackpot who can just use “we need to educate first” as an excuse for their lunatic run for office.

  8. robert capozzi

    AD,

    IIRC, The Nolan was a Randoid. She was big on education first. Objectively, she argued, Rachmaninoff was the best composer, for example. This sort of loopy thinking held much sway with the Founders. She didn’t approve of the LP because it wasn’t philosophical enough!

  9. paulie Post author

    However, I hope that I would be more prescient in 1972, and argue to Mr. Nolan that, before libertarians undertake the formidable task of electoral politics, we make it perfectly clear that in that arena, winning will be the sine qua non of the organization, NOT education.

    You really should read the remaining pages. A lot of misconceptions can be cleared up that way.

  10. Chuck Moulton

    I have not yet read the rest.

    However, even just those first 5 pages demonstrate 1) the LP was not founded solely — or even primarily — to win elections, 2) the founders thought sacrificing all else to win elections would be a terrible idea, and 3) the founders had already battled with and rhetocially defeated those in the cult of winning elections 45 years ago.

    There can be no doubt that changing the LP into a supposedly “lessercist” party which would jettison its principles for authoritarianism at the drop of a hat in the pyrrhic quest for election victories would be antithetical to the founding vision and the vision of thousands of activists who built up the LP infrastructure over the decades and would therefore be a hostile takeover which sensible people would aim to stop or frustrate through the bylaws — and they did.

  11. Anthony Dlugos

    Pyrrhic victories to whom? You sitting there comfortable as a relatively free man? Or the asylum seeker indefinitely detained in some tent city in Texas?

  12. Chuck Moulton

    Pyrrhic victories to those who want to see us move in a libertarian direction. When you give random people your jersey and they are trying to score points against you for the other team, that’s what happens.

    I have no problem running actual “lessercists” as Libertarians — namely, those who want to move us in a Libertarian direction on most of the issues and on all of the issues they make centerpieces of their campaigns. Unfortunately, you and Bob and others want us to run candidates who run vocal campaigns against us on many issues (a Mitt Romney or John Kaisich or some other Republican retread who never was and never will be libertarian on the issues).

  13. William T. Forrest

    Millions of words typed and wo/man-hours could have been saved over the years by just copying and pasting this link and “RFTM” (read the fucking manual). I think I’ll just do that from now on, it answers so many things.

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